Dolphins, SIs & Mind Morality [was: Sleep, Memory, SIs etc.]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 29 Oct 1999 18:11:11 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 29 Oct 1999, Zeb Haradon wrote:

> > I discussed birds sleeping 1/2 of their brain at a time.
> What's more interesting is that dolphins do this too (one half of the brain
> always has to be awake to remember to go up for air). I would
> semi-confidently place dolphins in the class of beings that have coinscious
> experience. This makes me wonder what the expereince could possibly be like.

They may have conscious experience but they probably don't have "morality". Its perfectly legitimate in dolphin society for a group of young males to gang up on and gang rape a solitary female. In our society that is considered pretty immoral. Which is interesting because it breaks the perception in my mind of a unity between ingelligence, consciousness and morality. Dolphins could be highly intelligent, quite conscious and ammoral.

I haven't been following the morality thread, anyone care to crossover and explain what "generates" morality? If its an implicit agreement "do unto others as you like others to do unto you" that serves to make society more efficient (due to game theory of being able to "trust" others playing the game), then it looks like Greg's proposal that conscious SIs should treat conscious lesser sub-SIs ethhically (his Ethics of Minds proposal) seems to be on swampy ground. Dolphins certainly don't treat other "sub"-fish ethically (they are known to gang up on and abuse sharks).

So, consciousness & intelligence does not generate morality. Neither do complex societies (if we use dolphins as examples). Higher beings seem to treat lower beings amorally (using humans and dolphins as examples). So it looks like the requirement for "equal moral treatment" only applies in cases where the beings are roughly equivalent -- SI to SI, sub-SI to sub-SI but not SI to sub-SI.

As far as what that experience is like, I haven't the foggiest. They live in a very information rich environment and appear to have lots of time to play and were at the top of their eco-niche until man came along.

> Does an individual dolphin have a different "personality" depending on which
> part of its brain is awake?

Probably depends on whether they have left-side/right-side specialization like we do. Since both the left side & right side have the same requirements for survival I would bet you don't get side-to-side specialization as we have. It would be interesting to know if a dolphin has other physiological assymetries, i.e. is the heart on one side and the liver on the other or are they all perfectly "inline"?